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Wishek Hospital

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Smiles for Life Fluoride Available at all WHC Clinics

Research shows that fluoride can reduce tooth decay by 25-45%. The Wishek Hospital and Clinics wants to reduce that percentage for children in our area by teaming up with the N.D. Department of Health - Oral Health Program called Smiles for Life to provide fluoride varnish to children. Smiles for Life services are covered by Medicaid and Healthy Steps and requires a minimal fee for commercial and private pay patients.

The Smiles for Life program, initiated in 2007 by North Dakota's legislature, allows health-care providers to assess oral health and apply the varnish to children through age 20. The purpose is twofold: to take preventive measures to protect children from cavities and to maintain their overall oral health.

All of our providers and nurses have completed the ND State Board of Dental Examiner’s training program through the Smiles for Life curriculum. The training allows them to administer fluoride when deemed necessary. Providers will also take the opportunity to educate children about the importance of brushing, flossing and caring for their teeth.

Children may receive fluoride varnish from both medical and dental clinics two to four times a year. Take action to help protect your children from cavities. Call your local clinic today to schedule a fluoride varnish appointment. For more information about Smiles for Life, visit


Doctor Placement Update

Due to the shortage of medical providers in rural areas, the need for teamwork and sharing talent between rural healthcare facilities is urgent. As of the end of October, our internal medicine doctors, Dr. Joseph Thirumalareddy and Dr. Thammi Vegiraju, will be alternating every two weeks between the Wishek Hospital and Clinic and the Linton Hospital. The Ashley Medical Center recently hired a full-time midlevel provider, so Dr. Vegiraju will no longer be practicing there. As we continue working closely with hospitals and clinics under the umbrella of St. Alexius Medical Center, we appreciate your understanding and flexibility.


Pediatric Health

Are my child's symptoms serious enough to see a medical provider? Does he really need to get vaccinated? What can I do to beef up her immune system? These are all questions you may have as parents. Here are some tips to help you navigate the health care system based on information derived from and Wishek Hospital and Clinic's PA-C/FNP Polly Benson.

1. Make a medical home.  Establishing a long-term relationship with a pediatrician or primary care provider is to your advantage. “Building rapport with a provider ensures someone who, when your child becomes sick, already knows your family history,” says Polly. While many people travel to see pediatricians, a local clinic like ours is a great place to begin establishing pediatric and family care.

2. Don't skip checkups.  It's important to keep regular checkups even when your child isn't sick. This way, doctors can make sure they are developing as expected and can catch any health concerns early. The WHC encourages regular well-child exams to evaluate their physical and mental health including growth and development, nutrition, behavior, sensory screenings, up-to-date immunizations, and parent education.

3. Keep vaccines up to date.  To immunize or not to immunize is a question commonly asked by parents. One thing is certain: diseases like polio and diphtheria have become rare in the U.S. due to the continuity of vaccinations.

“There is certainly controversy about immunizations,” says Polly. “I do think children need to be immunized, but there are people not immunizing their children because they have heard negative things about them.”

That's why Polly is an advocate for self-education, researching the facts before making up one's mind about medical advice. Immunizations for children range from birth to college-age children and are distributed by the County Health Nurse.

4. Don't delay care. When kids are sick, it can be difficult to determine if they need to see a medical provider. Ultimately, if you're unsure, “common sense is the biggest thing. Trust your gut and what you see. But if your child looks more sick than usual, it's best to come in,” says Polly who referred to “5 Serious Symptoms in Children Never to Ignore” found on for parents to use as a sounding board:

1. High Fever (child older than 1). “Don't look at the thermometer so much as their other symptoms,” says Polly. If your child is eating and drinking, skip the trip to the hospital. If the fever lasts four or more days and is accompanied by a sore throat or earache, bring them to the clinic.

A fever for children is defined as 100.4°F rectally or 99.5°F orally.

2. Bad Headache. Call your provider if your child's headache is so intense that they can't play, eat or enjoy a favorite TV show. If your child gets headaches often, this should be looked at by a provider.

3. Widespread Rash. To be safe, anytime your child has small red or purple non-blanching dots on a widespread area, lip/facial swelling or difficulty breathing, seek emergency care.

4. Stomach Bug. Monitor how often they are vomiting or having diarrhea. Vomiting three times a day simply calls for administering electrolytes at home, whereas eight bouts of diarrhea in eight hours needs medical attention for dehydration.

5. Stiff Neck. A stiff neck in combination with a fever, light sensitivity and headaches can indicate meningitis, a true medical emergency.

5. Check it out before you act on it. Health information is available now more than ever before thanks to the internet. “There is reputable and reliable support out there,” says Polly, “but there are also people with agendas.” Polly recommends parents frequent sites she trusts for guidance, like,,,,, and the “Healthy Children” app from the American Academy of Pediatrics.


A tribute to Jeannette Wald

Jeannette “Jean” Wald, former LPN at the WHC, passed away at age 63 on August 8th of this year. She worked at the WHC for 40 years.

She made a difference in many people's lives.  She received letters from patients and family members expressing their gratitude for the wonderful care she gave them. During her stay at the Wishek Hospital, the nurses, doctors and aides were all wonderful. They were always putting Jean’s care first, but they went above and beyond, making sure her family was okay and checking to see if we needed anything. They were all very compassionate. The WHC needs to be proud of its staff.”

-Mary Wald, Jeannette’s niece


Welcome Aubrey Atkins, Nurse Practitioner

"We all think very highly of Aubrey and agree that she will be a great fit for our Napoleon and Wishek locations,” says Mark Rinehardt, CEO.

Mark, along with the WHC staff, welcomes Aubrey Atkins to our community as our newest Nurse Practitioner. Aubrey started on October 27th as Napoleon Clinic's midlevel with a few days a month at the Wishek Clinic. She is from Salt Lake City, Utah and holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from the University of Utah and a Masters of Science in Nursing from George Washington University in D.C. Aubrey shared with us about her medical and personal background and why she is looking forward to practicing medicine in South Central North Dakota.

Why did you decide to pursue medicine?

From the time I was young, I knew I wanted a career in healthcare. After a somewhat negative experience with my own health, and the healthcare system while I was living in Spain, I decided I wanted to do something that would help alleviate the medical stresses and suffering of others. When I returned to the U.S., I began my nursing education.

What brought you to this position with the WHC?

A good friend of mine is actually from Ashley. She told me how great the people of North Dakota are and encouraged me to apply for this Nurse Practitioner position.

How has your team leadership experience helped prepare you for this job?

To me, leadership isn’t about giving orders or managing people. It’s about finding ways to better serve our patients and then working as a team to implement those ideas for the benefit of both the patient and the healthcare providers. My various roles as a staff nurse, charge nurse, nutrition support nurse, and outpatient coordinator gave me a wide variety of opportunities to see patients and the healthcare team operate in different capacities.

What is the most rewarding part about working in healthcare?

Making a positive connection with someone and seeing the influence I can have in their life, and they in mine, whether it be helping someone progress and recover, or providing support as they or a loved one finishes their mortal journey.

What is your personal philosophy of practicing medicine and how do you see it benefiting Wishek and surrounding areas?

My philosophy includes four basic tenets: 1) Clinical Excellence: I strive to provide the best care at all times and stay current on evidence-based practice for my patients. I look for ways to improve my practice and better myself as a clinician. 2) Mutual Respect: I treat my patients the way I would like to be treated. 3) Responsibility: I accept responsibility for my attitude, actions, knowledge and mistakes, and 4) Trust: I act with integrity. Healthcare is a partnership between the provider and the patient. I believe these four ideals can help create a positive, successful partnership. I look forward to starting that process with the people of Napoleon and surrounding area.

What are your impressions of the WHC so far?

I have only visited the clinics once, but everyone was very friendly and welcoming. They also seemed very supportive of one another. Everyone I met seemed to really enjoy his or her job, which says to me that this is a good place to work.

Coming from a city, what are you looking forward to about practicing medicine in our rural communities?

Salt Lake is a large city, and that affords opportunities and access to many specialists and therapies. While this may help the patient get better care, it can make the provision of healthcare feel somewhat disjointed at times. In a rural area, the access to some of those aspects is more limited, but providers get the opportunity and responsibility of caring for the whole patient, instead of just bits and pieces.

Talk a little bit about yourself, your family, what you like to do in your free time, hobbies, etc.

I was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah and all of my family members currently live in Utah. I am the second of four children. My father is a physical therapist and runs a wound care clinic, and my mother is retired. Two of my brothers also work in healthcare. In my spare time, I like to read, play the piano, sew, bake, and spend time with my nieces and nephews. I also enjoy going to University of Utah football games and Real Salt Lake soccer games.

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